How to Get Started with Better Inventory Management
Guest Post by George Gulliford, NetSuite Product Director at RF-SMART
Hey Google: “What is the best way to manage my inventory?” or “How do I keep up with my growing business?”
If these searches sound familiar, you already know you need to do a better job with your warehouse inventory management. Maybe you are like many who don’t expect to have a large amount of inventory on hand but as your business channels expand, suddenly it’s out of control.
Inventory problems can surface a number of ways:
- You may be a start-up company that has run into the following problems:
- You wanted to drop-ship inventory (ex: you don’t keep on-hand stock because you purchase a product from a third-party wholesaler or manufacturer who ships directly to the customer) but you’ve now found it is more cost-effective to bring your inventory in house
- You’ve overgrown your space
- You have no idea where all of your stock is (one location or multiple)
- You may be a company that uses a 3PL to handle your inventory and you’ve found:
- You need to bring inventory in house to reduce costs and improve customer service
- You need to change your business model (ex: currently a retailer looking to expand to ecommerce)
- Your order sizes are growing, and you need a more efficient way to get them out the door
- You may be a company that is expanding your product offering:
- Having more SKUs means its more difficult to find items and you want to improve worker productivity
- You want to provide great customer service, but you are experiencing a lot of returns of wrong items
Sound familiar? Additional indicators that you need a better solution include:
- Slow order processing times
- Unexpected stock outs
- Slow moving inventory
- Obsolete inventory (overstocks) taking up valuable warehouse space
- Cash flow problems
Steps to Better Warehouse Inventory Management
If you want to get started with better warehouse inventory management, there are steps you can start taking:
- Understand your inventory – Are the items in your warehouse line up with the value you provide your customers? List out your products and make sure you have your inventory planning strategy in place.
- Are you stocking the right items? Do you have the right quantities?
- Do you have seasonal items? Are you planning for your business spikes?
- Re-evaluate your warehouse – A critical step to maximize efficiency in your warehouse is to determine how your inventory is organized and stored.
- Is your warehouse laid out to maximize all of your warehouse procedures?
- What paths for you take to receive, pick and ship?
- Where is your fast-moving/slow-moving inventory going to be stored?
- How will you store your seasonal items?
- What are your storage limitations?
- Add Barcodes – Once you have a good grasp of your processes, implementing barcodes can take you to the next level of increased inventory accuracy.
- Does your product already have UPC codes or other barcode format you can leverage?
- Where do you need to add barcodes?
- What type of barcode do you want to use?
- Implement systems to help you manage – The final step is to evaluate solutions that complement your established business processes. Often times, companies use an inventory management system to scan the barcodes in their warehouse.
- What type of software for you currently own?
- Does the inventory solution work with your software?
- What type of scanning hardware will you need?
- What is your timeline?
As with most things, there is no silver bullet to better warehouse inventory management. But the place to start is getting your team aligned through evaluating these four areas.
PDF Download: 4 Considerations for Improving Your Inventory Management
Meet the Author: George Gulliford
George Gulliford is the Director of Product Management at RF-SMART. With more than 30 years of warehouse and logistics experience, George has assisted hundreds of companies in a variety of industries across the globe improve their operations.
For the past 30 years, RF-SMART has helped more than 850 cloud and on-premise customers mobilize their inventory control and improve their supply chain operations. RF-SMART offers barcoding, RFID and warehouse intelligence as automated data collection (ADC) solutions for Oracle ERP users.