Using computers to bring efficiency to every part of the business used to be something that only large corporations did. Today, though, reviewing every process for efficiency is something even small businesses need to do to stay competitive. While the tools are easily available, many small businesses still casually ignore the need to fine-tune every process. It’s traditional for small businesses to not take inventory management too seriously, for instance. Many small businesses, though, can make significant savings when they employ modern inventory management practices. Here are a few tips on how to leverage the tools available today to get the best efficiency out of your inventory chain.
Deploy computerized tools for inventory management
Small business inventory software systems are typically standalone tools. They tap into the information available on the ERP system that a business employs and keep tight control over the supply chain. Drawing on the data available, these tools are able to analyze every variation in demand and supply with aim of determining the best inventory level to hold at each inventory stage.
Some inventory management systems are able to provide users very accurate data. These tools can be excessively complex and require constant human intervention, though. Small businesses should be much better off finding an inventory management tool that mostly works on its own, even if getting such a tool does mean compromising on accuracy, somewhat.
Find inventory management software that gives you one window for real-time intelligence
Not long ago, small business inventory management used to be done entirely on custom Excel spreadsheets. It was up to the inventory manager to constantly hunt down data from different sources to feed into different spreadsheets. Modern inventory management tools completely automate the process, though. These tools are able to tap into real-time data feeds for information on the supply chain.
It’s important to have one management tool for both demand and supply. Single-window tools allow inventory managers to quickly find information on different inventory sources, know when exactly the suppliers can be relied on for prompt delivery and so on.
You need to develop a separate inventory management plan for each product
If you carry a number of products, inventory management software is able to independently offer accurate assessments of your restocking needs for each one. When small businesses manage their inventory manually or with tools like spreadsheets, they are usually unable to create a demand-and-supply model individually for each of the products they carry to learn what precise restocking rates they need to use. Many end up maintaining unnecessarily extensive inventories because they use one-size-fits-all inventory levels for entire groups of products. They don’t realize that reducing inventory investments by even tiny amounts on each product can result in sizable savings.
It isn’t enough to have warehousing management systems in place. You have to use them
Warehousing management systems offer in-depth information on every order placed with suppliers. They tell you how many units a supplier has shipped, when exactly a shipment is due and so on. Unfortunately, many inventory managers rarely have the time to keep on top of the data that these systems offer. Businesses need to train their inventory managers to help them see the importance of accurate warehousing management. Keeping an eye on your suppliers can help you identify inefficient ones and work with them to improve reliability.
Make use of mobile inventory management platforms
Mobile devices are so cheap today that even small businesses that have simple inventories are able to use them on the store floor to give customers information about inventory availability. A smartphone or tablet with real-time inventory information on it can help salespeople on the floor give customers an exact date for when to come back for a product that’s out of stock. Customers tend to feel better about businesses that give them exact dates and stick to them.
About the Author: Jack Bishop understand the entrepreneur spirit. He enjoys helping business owners turn their passions into effective businesses with practical and innovative strategies.
Photo credit: EvelynGiggles