Inventory vs. On-demand: Which is Best For Your Business
Are you looking for a fulfillment strategy that will fit your business’s needs? We’re glad you came because that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about in full detail so you can decide if Inventory or On-Demand is the right solution for your business. We’ll go over the benefits and drawbacks of both solutions while providing you with some additional insights and resources.
Let’s dive in.
Author’s Note: When referring to On-Demand and Inventory as business solutions, most people think of “e-commerce retail solutions”, but these terms are used for physical product fulfillment in general. Our use of the terms here pertains to internal business fulfillments such as pens, uniforms, mugs, notebooks, etc that have your branding on the items and are used by your employees, not your customers.
Inventory vs. On-Demand: Which is a Better Fit?
Quick Answer: For large companies, we recommend doing your own inventory. For small to medium-sized businesses, either could be a solution for your business needs.
In case you need further clarification, let’s identify what the differences are between on-demand and inventory solutions.
Inventory Management: You purchase the quantity of units you want to house and store in your personal storage space, you oversee the product catalog completely, you oversee fulfillment. Inventory management is a solution used primarily by larger businesses that have a good understanding as to how many units they require. More on the pros and cons of the inventory model below.
On-Demand: More commonly known as “print-on-demand”, this model is similar to that of a dropshipping model. Put simply, you’re only required to purchase units when the need arrives. If you notice that you need another 200 uniforms available for your local branch, you can purchase it right away. On-demand is primarily used for e-commerce businesses since it’s easier to manage. More on the pros and cons of the on-demand model below.
Inventory: Benefits & Drawbacks
We’d like to point out that inventory management does not need to be overseen from within your company. In fact, that’s why we exist! We’re here to help you with your inventory control, fulfillment, and online portals for your employees to access. The following pros and cons are for if you’re overseeing inventory management internally.
Main Benefit: You have complete management over your inventory. You’re in total control all throughout the process. Once you’ve purchased your inventory, it’s yours to maintain which brings a level of freedom into the picture. This is an independent solution if you so choose.
Consistent shipping times: You’re entirely in charge of when items are sent and fulfilled to your employees. This can be an easy, streamlined process that allows you to keep track of everything going out and when it will be delivered.
No minimum order requirement: Typically, there is no minimum order requirement involved in a self-managing product catalog. Depending on the manufacturer/supply chain, you may run into complications such as what was experienced during COVID times, but that is very rare.
Over-purchasing inventory: In some cases, you may purchase more of something than what you need since you’re ordering in bulk. If you buy 1,000 mugs and in 12 months have only sold 50, your budget just took a hit. It’s best to know exactly how much you’ll need, and that will come with time and experience.
Manage and maintain inventory costs: If you’re maintaining your own inventory, you need employees to manage things like organizing materials and products, purchasing new inventory, shipping and handling, and keeping track of inventory. We’d like to reiterate that it doesn’t have to be this complex! You can use Accent Branding instead to cut costs and save in efficiency.
On-Demand: Benefits & Drawbacks
For on-demand resources, we’ve collected a list of partners you can reach out to that you can find below.
Main Benefit: On-demand is very low-risk. You only have to purchase inventory based on the current demand.
Cost-effective to an extent: Typically, there are no up-front costs for bulk production, manufacturing, or storing inventory. There could, however, be additional factors (found in the cons section below) that lead to higher overhead costs.
Reduced risk of loss: It’s easier to order new inventory since the information needed to make the units is all digitally stored. If you happen to change your logo in any way, you don’t have to worry about large quantities of outdated inventory. Another example would be if you have business cards that have a spelling error, you can toss out the flawed cards and fix the mistake quickly on the new batch. Small batches have big rewards.
They ship for you: In some circumstances, on-demand manufacturers/suppliers can ship items to your destination of choice for you. This cuts down your time and increases your efficiency.
Most things are out of your control: This is a dependent solution entirely where you rely on the provider for essentially everything, even the materials that are used.
Inconsistent shipping times: Shipping largely relies on availability of materials and where these materials are being shipped from. If the inventory is stuck overseas for an extended period of time, your shipment won’t arrive until it’s cleared to enter the US. Again, we refer back to the COVID issues encountered where cargo ships couldn’t enter due to COVID cases.
Surcharge for expedited shipping: Since you’re out of inventory and you need it in a timely manner, you’ll have to pay for additional shipping costs to have it arrive on time based on your needs. Priority mail is very expensive.
Possible additional manufacturing costs: Since you’re purchasing such small quantities of inventory at a time, you may have to pay large costs just to have the items manufactured. Buying one item at a time isn’t very efficient for the manufacturer or supply chain.
Possible minimum unit purchase requirements: Depending on the manufacturer/supply chain, you might be required to purchase minimum quantities of your materials/products.
You can’t physically see the items going out for quality assurance: The quality of your ordered inventory could be compromised upon delivery. You have to go with a very trusted manufacturer/supply chain to ensure that high-quality units are always available. If not, then you could end up with a polyester uniform rather than cotton.
Do You Know What Your Employees Want?
Ultimately, either model of manufacturing, supplying, maintaining, and fulfilling your internal materials should come down to understanding your direct needs. Some of these needs are easily known based on your employees.
Do your employees prefer the green shirt over the red? Do they like the insulated water bottles?
Do your homework internally and you’ll discover what you need to purchase in bulk and what you do not.
You Should Invest in a Management Program
As we’ve mentioned above, choosing to house your own bulk inventory doesn’t need to be time-consuming or require a larger budget than you anticipated. Investing in a solution that can handle everything for you is the most efficient way to save overhead costs and play it safe when it comes to materials, ordering, and fulfillment.
Accent Branding is this solution! All you have to do is contact us with your needs, and we’ll manage everything for you. We want to be a partner you can rely on to maintain your internal business assets. We handle everything from uniforms and apparel to branded products and even your online store where your employees go as a means of ordering their items from you.
Keep costs low and efficiency high! We’ve already made the connections for quality manufacturers and supply chains. Now all you have to do is partner with us as your first and final stop.
We’ve created a list of on-demand suppliers that may interest you. At the very least, it’s a starting point on your journey to on-demand inventory. We are not partnered with any of the following resources and have not been funded to promote any of the following names.
- Gelato: Apparel, accessories, mugs, brochures, stationary
- iCoStore: Uniforms, apparel
- Inproma: Uniforms, branded products
- Printify: Apparel, branded products
Gooten: Apparel, branded productsBack To Blog