What is Inventory Lab Good For?
As Part of my journey into Amazon FBA I have been experimenting with the free trial of Inventory Lab.
The reason, because I was told to do it…
While that might not be the best reason it has given me the opportunity to take a look through Inventory Lab and learn what kind of benefits it might have.
What is Inventory Lab Good For?
The question came up during my first FBA mastermind meeting and I thought I would set out to figure out what the attraction is.
I took a look at the marketed features of Inventory Lab to see what kind of value they could offer over just using the options in Amazon Seller Central.
Creating Shipments and Tracking Inventory
But Amazon does that..
Well, yes it does but it would appear that there are some additional benefits to using that. More specifically, in how it ties into the accounting system and how much easier it is to create shipments. The process on Amazon includes a lot of steps in a not so friendly interface. Inventory Lab has a much more streamlined system that syncs to your Amazon Seller Account.
It will also tell you if the shipment needs a label or special packaging. I know one of the biggest problems I’ve had with starting out was packaging and trying to figure out whether something needed a label or not. I’ve put labels on things, tried to take them off again and almost ruined the product in doing so. It was a learning process…
I will say that there is a pretty cool feature in Amazon Seller Central that isn’t in Inventory Lab, the Inventory in Stock Report which gives you estimated times for when you will run out of inventory. I’m not sure how accurate it is, especially for new listings but it’s helpful to get a gauge of when you should resupply an item.
Inventory Lab is not just an inventory management solution. It is also a valuable research tool.
The product scout tool allows you to type in an ASIN and get the listing information. Information such as sales rank, category, packing details, prices of other merchants selling the product, etc. are all there.
It also, perhaps most importantly, presents the amazon fees along with a calculator for figuring out your ROI.
The accounting features are probably one of the biggest draw to Inventory Lab. It keeps track of the sale price, buy cost, net profit, profit % and ROI%. Best of all, it’s presented in a very easy to read way with the the total summary on the bottom.
You can also use it to keep track of refunds, reinbursement from Amazon, other income, inbound shipping, mileage and other expenses.
I think Amazon might have something like this somewhere hidden in Amazon Seller Central but it’s difficult to find and probably not very user friendly.
One of the biggest draws of an Amazon FBA business is the possibility to scale. A key component of that is delegation.
Inventory Labs comes with an employee feature.
I do not want to be giving my Amazon seller info out to virtual assistants I’ve never met or worked with before. Inventory Lab allows me to set up someone as an employee and give them access to the scouting tool for sourcing.
It also lets me give access to my prep company for registering inventory.
Finally, going back to accounting. I can set up a temporary employee account to give them access to records so that they can just go in and get what they need without me having to dig through everything and send a bunch of emails.
Here’s the manual page on setting up an employee. It looks like you can only do one employee at a time right now but eventually you will be able to do multiple. Since the prep company I am starting to get set up with doesn’t want access I can use it for a VA.
I’m a big fan of data anlysis. I want to know what my most profitable suppliers, products, and categories are and when they were the most profitable. That way I can make better decisions on where to spend my time and where to allocate money.
Inventory Lab gives me these options. You can look up the profitability by supplier, category, SKU and ASIN. There is also an inventory valuation, sales tax report and profit/loss statement.
Just remember that these reports are only as good as the data you put into them.
The dashboard is a very handy way to get a feel for where your at with just a glance. Lets compare that to what it looks like when you log into your Amazon Seller Account.
Not quite the same thing.
Because Inventory Lab is a focused product it is streamlined to giving you what you want. Amazon Seller Central has a lot of information they’re providing and it can be pretty overwhelming. It has some good information but honestly, I just use the Amazon Seller app or rely on email notifications to get that information.
Time is Money
So should you be using Inventory Lab? That’s up to you. If you’ve properly budgeted for your business and can fit it into your expenses then I would say go for it. You are going to want as much consistency in your data and workflows from the very start because transitioning to new systems is a bitch for everyone and can kill productivity, profit and moral.
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