Online to In-Hand: Managing Virtual Inventory

In the highly competitive landscape that is retail, it’s all about saying “yes” to your customer—“yes, we have that product in-stock,” “yes, we can order it for you,” and “yes it can get shipped to your home.” Strong virtual inventory practices allow for a leaner, more agile inventory operation. This means carrying core product groups in-store while still being ready to fulfill any number of orders not in your physical inventory. All in all, a well-managed virtual inventory will set you up for success when it comes to satisfying customer demands.

Two tool-sets allow fulfillment of virtual inventory:

  1. Core POS functionality allows ordering of virtual inventory; it covers the tracking of items and collection of deposits in advance of tendering
  2. Dropship integrations allow you to offer and sell thousands of additional products without the risk of ever having to physically stock them

Virtual to In-Stock: When inventory is out of stock

When inventory is out of stock, retailers head into their point of sale software to place sales orders. What are sales orders you may ask? They are a special type of invoice which tracks tentative sales and special orders for later fulfillment. Their primary function is to special order inventory that is being fulfilled to a location. This can happen through two channels – purchase orders and transfers.

Purchase Orders: The key benefits of purchase orders include deposit collection, a committed quantity status, and capturing the product.

Transfers: If you have the desired products stocked in another one of your retail locations, transferring products is a good way to fulfill an order. This practice helps to reduce the likelihood of getting stuck with old inventory at one particular store.

 Virtual to Customer Direct: When inventory is out of stock or un-stocked

In addition to ordering virtual items to stock, retailers can recover 68% of out-of-stock incidents if associates are prepared to offer shoppers the option to order the items before leaving the store and have them sent to their homes. This direct-to-customer fulfillment is done through Dropship—a service that gives you, as a retailer, the ability to send items from your vendor or fulfillment locations directly to your customers. This functionality can live in both RQ and your eCommerce solution.

Dropship from RQ: Integrated directly into RQ, the Dropship Wizard allows you to easily add these virtual items to any existing invoice including those with activations and upgrades.

Dropship from eCommerce: Dropship can also be integrated into your eCommerce site, offering those virtual products for customers to browse and buy when shopping online.

One of the key components that powers these virtual products is our Product Catalogue. Using APIs, it allows you to sell more items in more places, while keeping all of the product information including pricing and inventory centralized for an “update once, deploy to all” strategy. By using virtual stock—whether creating sales orders or offering virtual products through Dropship to customers directly—you can provide great experiences and always say YES to the customer.


Curious to learn more about inventory? Check out our recent case study on the in's and out's of inventory management.

Read the Case Study

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