You could present a strong case for inventory management systems being the unsung heroes of the retail industry. Customers rarely think about, much less see, the place their products are stored before making it to the shelves of a physical- or online-store. Ideally, they shouldn’t have to.
If everything unfolds as it should, the customer will be able to find the product they want in store. For online purchases, there should be minimal delay between placing the order and the item arriving on the customer’s doorstep.
For those in the industry, however, warehouse inventory management is a major, daily concern. In order for your customers to have a positive experience that will see them return and spread the word to their networks, everything back-of-house needs to be ticking along smoothly.
Put simply, an inventory management system is there to ensure the stock is where it needs to be at any given time to satisfy customer demand. According to information from the US census bureau, around 90% of a company’s stock is stationary at any given time, stored either in a warehouse or on the shelves of a retail shop. So only 10% of stock is in transit (while this data is from the US market, figures are comparable in markets around the world). If your business is going to be half-way efficient, you need to know where your stock is at all times.
Inventory management incorporates counting, picking and packing, shipping, receiving orders, tracking of inventory, and reporting. Inventory management may include other features depending on the system used, and each of these elements can be further broken down into their component steps.
One key feature of a good inventory management system is a high level of integration between the different components. For example, the data taken during picking and packing should be used during the shipping process, and information gained from tracking of inventory is used to create reports that analyse warehouse operations and streamline warehousing processes.
Inventory management systems may be manual, in which the stock is counted, sorted, and labelled by hand. This type of system is much more susceptible to human error than most other systems and is only really suitable for very small businesses.
More often, inventory management systems use some form of automated entry, such as scannable barcodes. This not only makes the system much more reliable by reducing the room for human error, but it also makes it much faster.
Whenever a business becomes large enough, the owners will have to start making decisions about what to outsource. Inventory management is often first on the list. Choosing a reliable inventory management partner can give you breathing space to focus on your core competencies – those parts of your business that only you can do best.
Outsourcing inventory management also saves you money. Professional warehousing agencies generally receive lower minimums on shipping, and as they have ready access to storage space, you only pay for the space you actually need for your items.
At Brand Services, our highly integrated, state-of-the-art warehousing facilities offer accurate, real-time information on the whereabouts and status of your stock. Our inventory management services are characterised by vigorous quality controls and fast, efficient shipping so your orders always arrive on time, on budget, and in one piece.
To learn more about our warehousing and inventory management services, get in touch with Brand Services today by phone or email. Our friendly team members are always happy to discuss how we can help your business grow.