Despite the availability of a number of inventory management systems, it is never really a surprise to discover retailers sticking to more traditional methods of keeping up with their stock.
In the interest of lowering costs, they rely on basic spreadsheets and manual stock-taking/checking, despite how inexact that can be.
Between keeping track of product orders on- and offline, knowing the quantities available, and dealing with cancellations, returns or exchanges, inventory changes by the minute. E-commerce creates even more complexity.
Before long, your spreadsheets are tripping you up and you’re losing both time and money trying to correct mistakes because physical quantities don’t match up to what’s on paper.
The situation is only made worse when more than one person has access to inventory – as is the case in most businesses. Who’s accountable when stock vanishes?
Trying to allocate fixed shelf locations to products can cost a lot and may not optimise shelf space, and returned stock creates even more of a mess – returns can be quite random, and it all likely goes back to one place.
Putting a modern inventory management system in place to track available inventory and sales doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, even one that tracks the movement of your products and gives you real-time updates.
Cloud-based supply chain solutions, including Whitebox’s INSYT, have helped many small and medium-sized retailers sidestep the need for a high upfront investment, and are easy to use, fully integrated across sales channels and, most importantly, affordable.
These systems allow you to view inventory in real time across sales channels, which means knowing what’s running low, moving fast, or coming back.
You can also use the same system to place orders or track a delivery door-to-door.
Ultimately, a proper inventory system makes the difference between “in time” and “on time” more than a preposition, and allows you to make promises that you can keep.