Much of the success of inventory-based businesses hinges on the efficient flow of goods. Starting from acquisition all the way to distribution, movement should be unimpeded at all times to avoid delays, spoilage (when applicable), and even overflow. In the real world, however, there are always hiccups waiting to happen. Despite your best efforts, a wrong item may be shipped out to a customer, or data may be entered incorrectly, or inventory can go stale.
Thankfully, many of these problems can be avoided — or, at least, easily remedied — by simply employing solid, actionable measures.
Have the right system in place
At the core of any inventory-based business is inventory management, and this is undoubtedly a great place to start. In a nutshell, inventory management (or control) oversees the movement of goods. This makes it very important to have a good and fully streamlined system in place to maximize efficiency. This entails having a standardized and well-documented workflow that not only details processes but also breaks down the steps involved in each one.
Organize your storage to reflect the most efficient scenarios. For instance, storing items with high turnover close to your pickers, and housing items commonly purchased together in close proximity, makes good sense. Sorting out the details is easy if you put a virtual floor planning tool to work. The final result keeps your goods steadily flowing in the right direction.
Invest in the right technology
The right system works best with the right technology. As Chron explains, making use of technology not only paves the way for automation and keeps your workflow more streamlined, but it also does away with the inefficiencies that stem from human error, poor communication, and inadequate training.
Of course, the technology you need depends on the size of your operation. At the most fundamental level, you will need software with features such as barcode scanning, report generation, multi-location and multi-point of sale management, stock handling and notifications, and more. Such software will come in handy to reduce data entry errors, track your inventory in real-time (so you’re better able to prevent both excess and shortage), and even improve your business’s cash flow.
Some operations (especially those that are larger) will also stand to benefit from other essential tech like a barcode system, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology, Light Fidelity (LiFi) Technology, and even robotics. It’s important to really take stock of what your business needs at its level and make the investment. And keep in mind that if funds are tight, there are loan opportunities for virtually any circumstances.
Hire the right people
Even with the right systems and tech in place, you will still need the people to oversee operations. However, it’s important to note that inventory jobs do require focus, strong analytical skills, and familiarity, so hiring the right people for the job is absolutely necessary. The role of inventory manager, for instance, is crucial for the company to attain its goals. Fishbowl notes hiring one entails that you ask the right questions, like exploring their knowledge of tech tools and ability to organize, but with the right person at the helm, your inventory issues can trickle down to virtually nil.
You can also make use of freelancers to set up and create an inventory management system that’s tailor-fitted to your operations. An e-commerce specialist, for instance, can help build your own dashboard for more ease in managing inventory. With better metrics and a clean interface, you can stay abreast of daily developments and make sound projections for your future.
You can, indeed, avoid inventory discrepancies that could put a damper on your business operations. However, doing so will likely require that you go back to the old drawing board and take decisive action, as well as make key technological investments. But with the right tools, resources, and manpower all ready to go, your business will be all but unstoppable, taking you many leaps forward to success.