Market research experts such as Euromonitor believe that e-commerce will make up 14% of all global shopping sales made by 2021. From the online retail entrepreneur’s end, its popularity has been driven by relatively low overheads and its ability to reach customers across the planet.

To keep the competitive advantage, online retailers rely on certain tools -- and one of the most important parts of any e-commerce business is an inventory management system.

E-commerce inventory management systems allow online vendors to check their stock levels, orders, sales, and deliveries. Designed to eliminate errors associated with manual data input across various sales channels used by online retailers, inventory management systems empower e-commerce business owners to keep costs low and grow their business.

A number of these inventory management solutions offer integrations with online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, which give business owners the opportunity to sell to customers anywhere in the world. Integrations with shipping carriers are also offered. As we all know, shipping plays a large role in e-commerce business development because it dictates timely delivery and, ultimately, customer satisfaction.

Here are the five things that shippers need to consider ahead of selecting an inventory management system for their business.

1. Centralized user interface. When inventory management system uses centralized interface, users are able to use one dashboard to fulfill orders and carry out store management from a single location.

2. Full automation. With a fully automated software, users do not need to use human employees to manually choose a shipping carrier and manually update tracking numbers.

3. Automated stock checking. A multichannel inventory control means that the user is able to control the stock levels of several sales channels from one centralized location. Not all solutions offer an automated stock checking feature.

4. Marketplace merging. Marketplace merging means a platform is able to merge several products from different market places (including Amazon) into one order, speeding up the delivery time.

5. Cost effectiveness. Different inventory management systems offer varied pricing, so it’s important to choose one that offers that best price-quality ratio.

Bonus: Shipping management There are some inventory management solutions that also offer shipping management integration. Although there are separate software solutions focusing on e-retail shipping process automation, it makes things much easier if inventory management software can do both.

Choosing the right online inventory management system can affect the whole business and sales, and allow online vendors to keep their competitive advantage. As e-commerce grows, online vendors can benefit a lot from modern automation tools.

Goda Jurgaityte is Senior Copywriter at Multiorders. Goda is a writer, marketer, and lead of the e-commerce blog for ambitious entrepreneurs.