Managing stock & inventory on [.blue]WooCommerce[.blue]

January 11, 2023

min read

WooCommerce is the leading eCommerce plugin for WordPress with over 30,000 daily downloads.

As well as the platform being more cost-effective than some of its competitors, the easy integration and user-friendly features are perhaps two of the biggest reasons for the popularity of WooCommerce. 

For any eCommerce business owner, stock management and a clear overview of inventory is crucial to maintaining sales and avoiding overselling. The WooCommerce inventory controls give business owners visibility over stock levels, pending purchase orders and back orders. They also allow you to see what products are selling well so you can better manage stock levels and make sure your best sellers keep selling.

Why you need WooCommerce stock management 

Stock management isn’t simply a one in, one out list of what you have in stock and what you have sold. Effective stock and inventory management is essential if you want to maximise conversion opportunities and sell as much of your product as possible. Using stock management via your WooCommerce store will help you to:

  • Avoid overselling: Having an up-to-date analysis of what you have in stock means you can adjust product availability accordingly and avoid disappointing customers.
  • Minimise stockouts: Forecasting what is likely to sell and weighing up how much stock you have left means you can plan to order more from your supplier and avoid losing any vital sales.
  • Optimise best sellers: Running out of guaranteed best sellers can really affect your bottom line. WooCommerce stock management means you can order ahead to keep stock topped to optimal levels.
  • Manage incoming orders: An overview of purchase orders and delivery dates allows you to manage resources and set alerts for customers when their favourites come back into stock.
  • Clear slow-moving or dead stock: Just as important as good sellers, identifying bad sellers means you can clear them. You might make a lower margin, but volumes may be higher and you free up room for new and improved product lines, whilst releasing cash that can be reinvested into other areas of your business

If you’re new to WooCommerce or inventory management in general, you can find more information in our guide to inventory visibility and why it matters.

Enabling stock management

The very first thing you need to do when setting up stock management with WooCommerce is to make sure that stock management is enabled. You’ll find this in the settings area of your WooCommerce dashboard. Enabling stock management has several benefits as well as certain variables that you can alter according to what works best for your business:

Holding stock

Holding stock is an option that allows you to input how long you will hold stock for before a customer must complete the transaction. This could be 15 minutes or an hour. If stock is at a premium or during high sales periods like Black Friday, having this control can help you avoid any time wasting that leads to lost orders.

Low & Out of Stock Notifications

WooCommerce inventory management tools let you set up notifications that tell you when a product is out of stock or has very low stock. You can set this up in as many units as you like. If you sell a high volume product the low stock threshold could be 15, for higher value items it might be 1 or 2. This could also vary according to supplier lead times.


eCommerce owners can choose whether to show out-of-stock items to customers or keep them hidden using this option. Keeping them hidden means less requests for goods that might not be due in, but keeping them visible shows customers what else you sell and could be a remarketing opportunity. 

Simple stock management

The breadth of businesses that WooCommerce supports means there are inevitably different types of products with different needs when it comes to managing stock. The first level of WooCommerce inventory management is simple products.

Simple products are items that are all the same and have no points of difference. Books are a good example of a one off product that is exactly the same for every customer that buys it. Adding and managing these simple products is, as you can imagine, very straightforward. You need to input all the details of the products, such as the SKU, the price and the current stock level. 

This may be where it’s worth using an extra plug in like Product Import Export that lets you upload multiple products with similar attributes all at once. Simple products can also be grouped, meaning they can be sold separately but also as a set: for example, coasters or mugs. 

Variable products stock management

Variable products require more information than simple products and, as the name suggests, have variables attached to them. This is often sizing, where the same item of clothing is available in multiple sizes. It might also be colour related, such as pillow cases in multiple colour options but all the same size. Having visibility over each variation is important. If you are selling joggers and have 5 of each size - small, medium and large - you need to know which size has which stock level so you can act accordingly. Taking the time to upload these variables will be well worth it in the long run.

Subscriptions stock management

The increasing popularity of subscription boxes has seen developers create integrations for WooCommerce that can manage these subscription products. WooCommerce subscriptions is a plugin that allows subscription based services to manage stock and inventory, as well as multiple billing arrangements and subscriber friendly options. It’s a definite plus for WooCommerce users as the subscription market booms and doesn’t just apply to physical items but downloadable or virtual subscriptions like eBooks or educational courses.

Getting started with WooCommerce Stock Management

So that’s a basic rundown of how you can manage your stock and inventory using WooCommerce. Of course, the devil is in the detail and when you first get started, you’ll need an in-depth look at how to upload each item and the important attributes to consider. This will vary according to your industry, product or service. The beauty of stock management with WooCommerce is that it has been designed to work with WordPress so you’ll likely be used to the interface having already set up your website. 

You can find an in-depth look at how to set up products and manage inventory in the WooCommerce help centre with everything you need from installing WooCommerce to selling your first product.

Third-party WooCommerce inventory management

Whether you’ve mastered the basics already or are looking to start scaling up your business, you might be looking at more in-depth inventory analysis tools. Integrating your WooCommerce store with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider will give you even greater insight into your incoming and outgoing stock, allowing you to focus efforts elsewhere. It also ties in with shipping and storage, freeing up even more time that can be spent on maximising leads and sales. 

Contact us to find out how we can seamlessly integrate with your WooCommerce store for total inventory control and up-to-the minute order fulfilment solutions.

Alex Borg
Director of Operations at Zendbox

Alex is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations at Zendbox, ensuring accurate and timely order processing, picking, packing, and shipping. He collaborates closely with other teams across the business to meet customer expectations and achieve stringent service level agreements (SLAs).

Further Reading

ready to take control?

Automate your ecommerce fulfilment with Zendbox.

Get started


Simple pricing based on volume of orders. No hidden fees.
Get in touch

Have any

We’ve been doing this for a long time. We might have your answer here.