Are you manually managing products in your WooCommerce inventory? If so, then you’ll benefit from having a solid WooCommerce inventory management system. Not only will it make it easier for you to manage your store in real-time, but it can have a positive impact on your bottom line.
The truth is that having a solid inventory management system can save you a lot of time and energy. Energy that can be redirected to other areas of your business. As an online store owner, that should be music to your ears!
At this moment, there’s a global strain on the supply chain ecosystem, impacting businesses at the inventory level. It’s important, now more than ever, to set the right expectations with your customers when it comes to the availability of your products.
This article will highlight the different WooCommerce Inventory Management plugins available to you. As well as show you how you can manage and enhance your inventory process with them.
Why do you need better inventory management?
If you’re handling your current inventory within the standard WooCommerce out-of-the-box package, you might run into some limitations. With the right WooCommerce inventory management system in place, you’ll gain some of the following benefits.
Save time spent on repetitive tasks
With a WooCommerce inventory management system, you can easily edit in bulk. This will shave hours off having to make changes and edit thousands of products manually.
You’ll be able to change your product’s prices (plus its variations) and add discounts in just a few clicks. Save yourself the repetitiveness and the countless product page visits!
Improved shopping experience
With a complete inventory management system, you can give your customers visibility of their favorite product’s stock status. They’ll have an easier time making a purchasing decision when they know exactly when their product will land at their front door. You’ll take the guesswork away and reduce their need to contact you for more information.
Reduced losses from bad inventory control
If you’re managing your inventory manually, you have a higher chance of making mistakes. A single mistake can snowball and create a huge dilemma for your store. If a stock level wasn’t set properly, it might take you hours to fix on top of it being a costly mistake.
Forecast and regulate inventory requirements
With an inventory management system, you can easily forecast your stock level so that you know exactly when you need to contact your vendors to make orders. You’ll have a better handle on your inventory requirements and foresee any challenges coming ahead of time.
What are the default options available for inventory management in WooCommerce?
Since we’re going to compare different plugins (and their features) to help you better manage your inventory. It’s probably a good idea to take a look at what your current default options are. You can then decide if you want/need the additional functionalities for your WooCommerce inventory.
From your WordPress dashboard, go to WooCommerce > Settings > Products > Inventory to see the default settings.
Here you can see all your available options for better inventory control. You can:
- Set up notifications.
- Manage pending orders.
- Set up stock status options (out-of-stock, low stock, back-ordered).
- Set up expectations for order deliveries.
You’ll notice that the WooCommerce inventory doesn’t allow you, for example, to add a lead time for back-ordered products.
If you’re looking for such functionality, it’s best to use a WooCommerce inventory management plugin.
Which are the top inventory management plugins and which is the best?
As with any other plugin, there are countless options out there on the market. How do you know which one is the best fit for your WooCommerce inventory needs? We’re here to help you with that!
Here are the top WooCommerce inventory management plugins we recommend
WooCommerce Lead Time
The WooCommerce Lead Time plugin is designed specifically to give your customers the vital information they need before they make a purchase from you.
You can display the stock status and lead time for all your products globally or at the category/product level. You can choose to show the lead time for in-stock, out-of-stock, or back-ordered items with this plugin.
Here are some of its other features:
- Full control over setting your lead times (static and dynamic).
- Automatic lead time calculations.
- Customize the lead time text on a product.
- Works with product tables.
Pricing: Starts at $49/yr
WooCommerce Out of Stock! Manager
WooCommerce Out of Stock! Manager will let you add threshold rules for your stock levels, with additional custom warnings so you’re alerted when a certain product stock falls below your assigned threshold. If you have a team managing the store, you can add them to be alerted of the warning.
Here are some of its other features:
- First glance dashboard for better inventory overview and management.
- Compatible with WPML.
- Ability to customize the text on out-of-stock product pages.
- Email notifications when your stock level is low.
ATUM is a free inventory management plugin that provides you with all the information you need at first glance to make decisions. It comes with an integrated dashboard so you can see the number of products you have in store, their prices, and so much more. You’ll have full control of your WooCommerce inventory which you can manage directly from the dashboard.
Here are some of its other features:
- Advanced search capability with auto-fill.
- Compatible with WPML.
- Can make bulk product changes.
- Export your inventory in PDF format.
Smart Manager for WooCommerce
The Smart Manager plugin for WooCommerce is an inventory management plugin that lets you edit your products, orders, variations, and coupons in bulk with just one click. You can also control your online store’s stock level in an easy-to-use spreadsheet-like system for a more seamless and efficient process.
The pro version of this plugin gives you the additional functionality of batch updating, duplication of records, and the ability to edit multiple inline records in one click.
Here are some of its other features:
- Advanced search capability.
- Preview your images.
- Sticky header for data management.
- Export all your posts in CSV format.
- Infinite scrolling.
Pricing: Free Version (Pro $149/yr)
For maximum impact, we recommend you combine the WooCommerce Lead Time plugin with one of the other plugins mentioned above. This is because they offer different features and provide you with a complete WooCommerce inventory management solution.
How to use WooCommerce Lead Time to provide better inventory information to customers
The WooCommerce Lead Time plugin is the only plugin that allows you to easily display the lead time for a product so that your customers know when it will ship.
There’s nothing more important to a customer than knowing exactly when to expect delivery. Having a clear indication of that on your product page might be the deciding factor for their purchase.
The WooCommerce Lead Time plugin is the perfect solution for the following scenarios
If your online store houses some of the following types of products, then the WooCommerce Lead Time plugin is what you’re looking for.
Custom, made-to-order products
If you sell made-to-order, custom, or handmade products, then it’s useful for your customers to know exactly how long it will be until their product is ready. They might click away from your store for another alternative if they see an out-of-stock sign, as that would be the default option with your standard WooCommerce inventory options.
Show them the lead time on product, checkout, and category pages. You can set the processing time globally or at the product/variation/category level for a more specific target. You also don’t have to use the words “Lead Time” as you can customize to your business’s needs.
If you have products that are non-stock items because you don’t keep track of their quantities, then you can skip setting the quantity level but still have them show up as available in the store for customers to purchase.
For out-of-stock products, you’ll be able to display a message immediately when your product sells out. You can arrange for a separate lead time option for products that are in-stock, out-of-stock, or back-ordered as they all have different requirements.
To provide your customers with the best possible experience, let’s set up your WooCommerce inventory management system.
Installing and using the WooCommerce Lead Time plugin for your inventory management needs
You can get the plugin from the Barn2 website and then download the files to your computer.
Here are the steps you need to take to get started.
- Go to your WordPress Dashboard → Plugins → Add New → Upload Plugin.
- Select the files from your computer and click on Install.
- Now that you’ve uploaded them, click on Activate.
- Go to WooCommerce → Settings → Products → Lead Time so you can input your license key (should be in your email confirmation).
- Click on Save Changes.
Let’s go to the plugin’s page now to add and display the lead times for your products.
Add Lead Times to your products
First, you need to decide where you want to display your lead times.
Go to the Products tab at the top of the screen, and then click on the ‘Lead Time’ link right below the tabs. You’ll see the following options.
- Single product page
- Order details
You can select the specific product areas where you want a lead time text to be shown.
Next, let’s go through the various stock status options.
Display lead times for types of products
Keep in mind that if you only check one of these, then the lead time will only show for products associated with that selection. So, if you check ‘out-of-stock products’ only, then only products that are out-of-stock will display the lead time.
- In-stock products
- Out-of-stock products
- Product on backorder
- Discontinued products
If you want to keep it simple, you can show the same lead time for each product regardless of its stock status. If you want more control, then you can set a lead time per stock status. You can do this by checking the ‘Display a different lead time depending on the product’s stock status’ box.
By doing so, you’ll get more options to set a different global lead time for each stock status. Additionally, for each stock status you’ve enabled, you can set the lead time at the category, product, and product variation level.
Global lead time settings
If you want to have the same lead time shown on all your product pages, then you can set that up here in the global lead time field on the same Products tab and ‘Lead Time’ section. If you want to set the lead time for each individual product, then you can leave the global lead time field blank.
You can override the global lead time (if you set one) with a different one for specific products. In any case, if there’s no lead time set at the category-level or at the product-level, then the global lead time will take precedence.
Global lead time format
You have the option to choose between a dynamic lead time or a fixed text one. Here are the differences between each option.
Dynamic lead time
For this option, open up the calendar and select the date when your products will be coming in. The lead time will be automatically calculated for you and displayed on the product pages you selected to have a lead time shown. Your customers will see the number of days or weeks until they can expect the product.
As an FYI, this should be used only if you’ve ordered stock for all of your products and they’re coming in on the same day.
Static lead time
Here you set a fixed and exact text, such as ‘7 days’ for the product pages you’ve selected to show a lead time on. This is a good option if all your products have the same lead time.
You’re also able to override the global lead time format for specific products or categories should you choose to.
If you set the global lead time for ‘7 days’, you can also set up a dynamic lead time for an individual product if you know what day it’s coming in.
Customize the lead time display
There are two customizations you can make related to the display of the lead time. One is for the wording of the lead time and one for the text color. For example, if you don’t want it to say ‘Lead time’, but you’d rather have it show ‘Waiting time’ then you can make that change in the ‘Lead time prefix’ field.
You can also change the lead time text color so it matches with your brand or theme color. Simply change the ‘Lead time text color’ hex code.
Additional lead time options to consider
The WooCommerce Lead Time plugin has more to offer. With the newest feature in place, you can actually set lead times at the category and product/product variation level.
Category level lead time
If you want to add a lead time at the category level, here’s what you do.
Go to your WordPress dashboard → Products → Categories.
In this area, you can choose ‘Static’ or ‘Dynamic’ under the ‘Lead Time’ field. The difference between static and dynamic is the same as mentioned above (under the Global Lead Time Format section).
If you do set up a lead time at the category level, then all your products within that category (and sub-categories) will inherit the text. You can choose to override this for individual products should you want to.
Also, keep in mind that the category-level lead time will override the global lead time setting (as well as for individual products that do not have a set lead time).
Product level lead time
To set up a lead time at the product level, you’ll follow a similar process.
Go to your WordPress dashboard, then click Products → Edit Product.
In the Product Data area, there’s an inventory tab where you’ll find designated fields to set the lead time at the product level. Similarly to the category-level lead time, you can now set a ‘static’ or ‘dynamic’ lead time at the product level.
If you do set a lead time in this area, it will override any settings you have at the category level and global level. Your product level lead time will always take precedence.
Also, keep in mind that products that don’t have a designated lead time will fall under the category-level lead time.
For both of these, the category-level and product-level settings, your lead time will only show up for the selected stock status options you selected at the beginning in the ‘Display lead times for’ section.
Why should you use WooCommerce lead time?
The WooCommerce Lead Time plugin stands out in multiple ways as it’s packed with features to help you manage your WooCommerce inventory. If you want to keep your customers informed, display product lead times, and have control over static and dynamic lead times, then you’re in the right place.
Here are some of its top features that everyone is raving about
Integrates into your theme
You don’t have to code anything extra when you set up this plugin. The styling for the lead time text is automatically inherited from your theme so it matches the look and feel you already have.
The plugin is lightweight
Your website won’t be bogged down when you download and install this plugin. It uses little resources so you can be sure that your online store is still loading up at an optimal speed.
Stock status control
You’ll have control at the smallest level over your product stock statuses. You can easily show static or dynamic lead times depending on the product, category, variation, or storewide stock status.
Highly rated customer support
This plugin comes with an expert support team to guide you along the way. If you’re stuck, have a question, or need more hand-holding, you’re covered.
Additional inventory management benefits
Should a product go out of stock, you want to make sure that your customers know when the product will be back in stock before they reach the checkout page. This visibility will greatly improve customer loyalty as they won’t feel disappointed when they’re ready to checkout.
Additionally, if you want to let your customers know how long it will take between their order and delivery, you can manage this as well with the WooCommerce Lead Time plugin.
Managing discontinued products
If you want to manage discontinued products, we highly recommend Barn2’s Discontinued Products plugin, which seamlessly integrates with WooCommerce Lead Time. When one of your products reaches the end of its shelf life and won’t be available again, your standard WooCommerce setup is limited in options.
With the WooCommerce Discontinued Products plugin, you’ll be able to quickly mark any products as discontinued without impacting their SEO value, which is highly valuable in and of itself. You’ll have the ability to either show them as discontinued or to hide them from your store, with either option making it easy for the customer to browse through.
For more details and information on the benefits of this plugin, you can go here.
An easy way to manage your WooCommerce Inventory
Having the right WooCommerce inventory management system will save you a lot of time down the line and make your life easier as an online store owner.
If you’re looking to add more functionality to your store, and flexible options for your custom and non-stock products, then the WooCommerce Lead Time plugin is the right fit for you, complementary to other inventory management plugins.
You’ll have the flexibility and control to manage your inventory lead time at the global, category product, and product variation levels. Give your customers the best possible shopping experience as you’ll take the guesswork and frustration away from them.
Download and install the plugin today!