In any industry where there’s a supply chain involved, inventory management is a big deal. How well you store your products, the timeliness of how you get them to a customer’s doorstep, and how you maintain strong sales of from a huge stock are all valid concerns related to inventory, warehousing, and supply chain management. Even in fields like ecommerce, where customers often buy products online without being able to examine them from off the shelf, good inventory management pays off: it always ensures that you have enough to sell, that your items are where they need to be, and that they’re in a condition that buyers expect.
Revisiting your warehousing inventory practices is especially important if you’re changing up the way you do business. If it just so happens that: (1) you’re introducing new products into your supply chain, (2) you’ve begun to work in a fast and high-volume packing-and-shipping environment, or (3) you’re expanding your warehousing capacity, then it’s definitely time to brush up on monitoring your warehouse inventory.
Looking for new methods to try? Here are five tips on how to monitor your warehouse inventory—and to gain better control of your stock.
- Consider a third-party fulfillment service for items you’re bulking up on. For businesses that operate through ecommerce and need adequate warehousing facilities for high-volume stock, an efficient ecommerce fulfillment service will likely go a long way. It is sure to save time, money, and grief about deliveries being completed. Moreover, a great third party logistics (3PL) provider will help you manage your stock from end to end, from tracking your inventory in their spacious and well-equipped warehouse to shipment for customers.
- Upgrade to software that can help you track your items in real-time. Real-time data analytics are a boon to supply chain-driven businesses, who have long dealt with outdated and delay-prone tools for inventory keeping. Shifting to software with real-time capacities has proven particularly useful to businesses scaling up their operations. If this is the case for you, then you should know that the software upgrade is likely to give you great returns on investment. For one, they reduce confusion and ambiguity about where your stocks are or when they were last moved. For another, data-driven inventory keeping in the warehouse will lead to more clear-headed and efficient management decisions that have to do with the supply chain.
- Optimize your warehouse’s floor plan to follow ABC sorting and the FIFO policy. No one likes a cluttered working environment, and that rings especially true for a warehouse full of products for shipment. To prevent unnecessary delays or difficulty locating items, do reorganize your warehouse’s floor plan to follow ABC sorting method (bestselling to weakest-selling stock) and the first-in, first out (FIFO) policy. Bring the products that are the most in demand to the fore of the warehouse so that your staff can move them out faster; in addition, move the oldest stock ahead of the newest stock, so that the former can be shipped out before it spoils or gets damaged.
- Practice-cycle counting throughout the year. Don’t wait until the annual inventory check to account for every single type of product you have in stock at the warehouse. Instead, practice cycle-counting, or counting smaller sets of inventory at different points in the year. Aside from keeping you on top of the numbers, cycle-counting will also grant you more accurate perspective on how well each type of stock is performing per month, per quarter, or per season.
- Compile your quarterly inventory reports. Lastly, don’t forget to supplement your warehouse visits or your calls to your warehousing partner with actual paperwork on your inventory. That way, even when you’re outside your warehouse, you can still have copies of the info whenever you need it—for example, a physical copy in your filing cabinet at your corporate office, or as a digital file on your laptop.
The ultimate goals of warehousing inventory management are better accuracy, better organization, and easier work to be done for everyone. With these tips on hand, warehousing should be a cinch, and profits should go up from having well-managed stock!