Woocommerce is a popular option for handmade sellers as it is free, easy to setup and operate.

This ecommerce option allows you to create a shop using Wordpress, list your products and take payments using a variety of different options.

WooCommerce also features some inventory management features that can be useful that we'll explore in this article.

Global Inventory Settings

Firstly, let's take a look at your global settings for inventory - this section allows you to configure how your stock is managed on a high level, including stock alerts.

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To find your global inventory settings page:

  1. Login to your account
  2. Go to WooCommerce then Settings
  3. Click the Products tab, then Inventory link in the top bar

Let's take a closer look at the settings:

Manage Stock
This setting will effectively allow you to configure a range of options relating to inventory tracking. Even if you aren't tracking your inventory in Woo, there are still some interesting options contained in this section that might be useful.

Minutes to Hold Stock
This option is great if you typically have very small amounts of stock available, or sell one-off items. It basically ensures that when a product is added to a basket, your stock available will be decreased (held) until the basket expires.

In terms of what to set here, 1-4 hours is generally recommended as this is typically the average timeframe a customer would spend shopping on your site before checking out.

Low and Out Of Stock Thresholds
These features can be useful to set if you want to keep track of stock levels on Woo only.

This will generate an email alert when your stock level reaches the amount configured in these fields.

If you sell on more than one channel and track your stock in a consolidated inventory management system then this may not be worth configuring as it won't be fully aware of your higher level picture of sales and manufactures elsewhere.

Out of Stock Visibility
This setting can be useful as a quick way of hiding a product from display on Woo without completely removing it from your product list - just mark your stock as zero and your product will disappear from view.

As a way of indicating sold out stock, again this setting is only really useful if you are tracking inventory on WooCommerce only.

Tip: If you aren't paying attention to keeping your exact stock levels updated this setting may inadvertantly cause some of your popular products to disappear from your shop so use this setting with caution!

Product Inventory Settings

WooCommerce also has the ability to set stock levels for each of your products. This can be handy if you have different types of products available in your shop - for example, eBooks and physical products. Your eBooks will never run out of stock, whereas your physical product inventory needs to be managed carefully.

To find your product inventory options:

  1. From the WordPress Admin sidebar, go to Products
  2. Edit an existing product or create a new one
  3. Scroll down below the post editor to find the Product Options panel
  4. Click the Inventory tab

If you want to manage the inventory levels on this product you'll want to ensure that the Manage Inventory checkbox is ticked. This will display a range of sub-options at this point:

Stock Qty
This field is for setting the total amount of product you currently have available for sale. Orders placed for this product will decrease by the number of items sold automatically.

Stock Status
This allows you to set to In Stock or Out of Stock. If the amount available is zero and you aren't allowing backorders then this will automatically set your status to Out of Stock.

Allow Backorders
This allows customers to purchase products that are out of stock. You'll want to be careful with this setting as you'll need to be managing customer expectations if you sell items that have long manufacturing times.

Sold Individually
This setting is great for custom or OOAK items - it indicates that only one of this product can be sold before it is sold out.

Tracking COGS with WooCommerce

Unfortunately WooCommerce does not include a module to calculate costs of goods sold (otherwise known as "COGS").

However, for makers of handmade products there is a great option to consider: Craftybase is a bookkeeping and inventory solution that features a fantastic integration with Woocommerce. Craftybase will automatically cost your manufacturing and orders from Woo and keep track of your stock levels for you.