Managing the stock in your warehouse is key to ensuring the frontend of the operation runs just as smoothly. Poor control of the management inventory flow will inevitably lead to much larger problems further down the line, impacting negatively on shipping procedures and of worst of all, impacting customer relations. What returns to the warehouse is just as important as the items that leave, so having an efficient system in place to uphold best practices will remove the danger of having an over or understocked warehouse.
Upgrading, or moving to, a new inventory management system can create as much excitement as it can stress. The implementation of new software won’t simply eliminate all previous problems that existed, as the system will still be reliant on a warehouse that is well organised and running efficiently. Below we are going to run through some of things you should look at before, during and after introducing an inventory management system into your unit.
Bringing in a new inventory system, or even automated equipment, is a reflection of growth within the business, so it is the perfect opportunity to take a step back and review where things can be improved within the layout. Your product range changes over time and how that impacts on the operational side would also have become apparent, and no doubt there are at least one or two areas that can be changed to assist overall efficiency.
If a barcode or RFID system is being installed, which will mean updating the labelling of stock items, then it is the ideal time to review how well the current style, design and descriptions are working. It may also throw up some unexpected surprises that over time have been continually been left to one side for one reason or another, so it makes sense to address anything that can be resolved to add further incremental improvements within the warehouse
Reviewing Best Practice
The introduction of a new way of working will not just simply fall into place, even with the best will in the world, especially if they are replacing existing methods that have existed for quite some time. With or without a new inventory management system, reviews should be an ongoing process within any warehouse. Too often issues are only addressed once they become an issue, whereas a daily, pro-active approach will enable you to problem solve on the move, without impacting too heavily on organisation speed. Checking that returns and damaged items are dealt with promptly, or that stock is always easy to access and isles and shelving units are kept accessible and safe, are just some of the basics to cover.
Prioritise Key Sellers
A modern inventory management system should mean that you are able to track your inventory without suffering any data lag. Knowledge of how your best performing products are selling is instantly available, and response time to any increases or drop-offs is significantly lessened. Stock that is in demand should be placed in positions and heights that are easily accessible for the workforce, shortening response time to orders and helping to improve speed of delivery.
Once the workforce has settled into the new system and initial change-over issues have been ironed out, you should have a clearer idea on how this will improve the ordering process. As long as regular stock-checks and audits occur, then by setting a minimum stock level, some systems allow the option to automatically raise an order that can be sent directly to the supplier. Of course, this is something to oversee initially, but after a number of successful attempts, by placing faith in the system, you free up valuable time for staff to concentrate on other aspects of the business.